Program to help young men learn to be better dads

FLINT TWP. — Lessons for young fathers on how to be a better parent is the goal of a Proud Fathers program, the latest effort by the Men At W.O.R.K. group in the Carman-Ainsworth School District.

They are currently recruiting young fathers in their teens to early 20s to take part in a free after-school training program based on a curriculum from the Nurturing Fathers Organization, created by Mark Perlman.

“We’re hoping to work with some of our teen dads and get them involved with their kids while they are young,’’ said Mike Kildee, a program facilitator.

Proud Fathers is set to start on Wednesday, April 27 and will meet from 4:15 to 6:15 on Mondays and Wednesdays for 13 sessions. Anyone interested in signing up should contact Kildee at 591-7232 or Rod Reyes at 591-7272.

Men at W.O.R.K., short for Working on Relationships with Kids, started in Carman’s early childhood programs as a way to get our fathers involved in the education of their children, Kildee said. As the children transitioned to higher grades, the group moved with them until it became a pre-K through 12th-grade program, Kildee said.

Men at W.O.R.K. meets on the fourth Tuesday of each month to plan activities, Kildee said. Proceeds from last month’s Barry Saunders Classic basketball game helped to raise funds for group projects. An annual WinterFest of singing and Christmas music gets the entire school district involved in gathering canned goods, warm coats and toys to help needy families during the holidays.

Several movie nights have been held at various schools and more are being planned. At one time, a trip to a Detroit Tigers baseball game was an annual activity but transportation became too expensive, Kildee said.

The group’s annual Father’s Day Picnic will be June 12 at Elms Road Park in Swartz Creek. It provides free food and activities and is open to the public.

All activities are in keeping with the group’s mission to provide opportunities in the school district to engage father’s in their children’s lives, Kildee said. Studies show more positive outcomes when both parents are involved in their children’s education, he said.

Nurturing Fathers reflects back on how your parents raised you, passing on to your children the things you thought were valuable and discarding those that were not and “creating your own path as a father,’’ Kildee said. It also works on fathers establishing a positive co-parenting relationship with the mother of their children. In 2004, Men at W.O.R.K. won a Children’s Champion Award from Priority Children.

The group’s next meeting is April 26 at the Learning Community Building, 1181 W. Scottwood Avenue.

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